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Northern priest survives winter storm

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
News

The Rev. Moses Kakekaspan, who survived a night in a brutal winter storm this week, relaxes with his wife, Thelma, and their great-grandson. Photo: Cecilia Chapman


A 71-year old northern priest who survived a night outside this week in a -43 C winter storm said his experience was meant as a lesson in divine love.

The Rev. Moses Kakekaspan, priest at St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Fort Severn, Ont., a remote community on Hudson’s Bay, was recovering late this week from hypothermia and frostbite.

On the night of Tuesday, January 26, Kakekaspan had run into difficulties while attempting to return home by snowmobile from Peawanuck, another small community 186 km away.

When reached by the Anglican Journal Friday, January 29, a jovial Kakekaspan did not seem greatly shaken by his experience.

“I’m OK. I’m OK. The good Lord looked after me,” he said, laughing as he recalled the experience. “I spent the night with no fire—had to start walking to keep alive, keep myself from freezing!”

He never felt afraid that night, he said, because the sense that God was near kept him from losing his head.

“I know my Lord. He was guiding me, I can feel it,” he said. “I know. If I was afraid, if I was worried, I could have got lost, but I had that feeling that he’s there with me. I didn’t let myself lose my trail.”

Kakekaspan had left Peawanuck at about 4 p.m., in order to make it into Fort Severn by 10 that night—despite an ominous premonition.

“I dreamed before I started my journey I was going to run into difficulties with my machine,” Kakekaspan said.

As he made his way west, falling snow began to obscure the snowmobile trail—and then his headlight blew out. Kakekaspan had a spare headlight—but that blew out, too. The underlying problem, he discovered, was that his sled’s voltage regulator wasn’t working. He had also brought a flashlight with him, but with snow coming on very thickly, visibility became a serious problem.

The temperature that night reached -33C, with a wind chill factor of -43 C.

Kakekaspan had told Canadian Rangers in Peawanuck about his plans, and at 10:30 p.m. they called his wife, Thelma, in Fort Severn to see if he had made it home yet. When they learned he had not, they organized a search party. Rangers from Fort Severn headed out toward Peawanuck, hoping to run into him. About halfway there, they found snowmobile tread marks and footprints, suggesting he had been stopping his vehicle periodically to look for the trail. The marks suggested he had turned his sled around and started to head back to Peawanuck.

It turns out this was the case. Kakekaspan says he never actually lost the trail, but it was becoming more and more difficult to make it out as the snow accumulated. At about 4 a.m., he says, he started to head back. Then he ran out of gas.

There was no choice but to abandon his snowmobile and try to make it on foot. At least at this point, he says, the snowfall had abated and the moon was lighting his way.

Meanwhile, another Canadian Rangers search party headed toward Fort Severn from Peawanuck. They found Kakekaspan at roughly 7 a.m., about 20 km from Peawanuck. He was suffering from hypothermia and frostbite, and the rangers took him to a nurses’ station in the community. He was released Wednesday, January 27.

Kakekaspan said he understands his experience as a kind of communication from God to make manifest his omnipresence, the need for faith and the power of his love.

“God is everywhere. He’s touching us,” he says. “We need to be born again and meet our Lord when he comes. That’s the main purpose of that journey…The purpose is for the Lord, to be honest with you. It’s a blessing that everybody sees.”

Kakekaspan seemed more eager Friday to talk about the role God had played in his life than to focus on the details of his night in the snowstorm. It was in 1977, he says, that he was first called by God.

“The Lord called me to his mission,” he said. “I told him, ‘I don’t have no education. I can’t even read my own language, the syllabics,’ and he said, ‘You’re not the one who’s going to speak! The word will be provided!’

“Praise the Lord!” Kakekaspan said with a laugh.

As a day job, he worked with the Ministry of Transportation, working on runway and road construction until he retired in 2004, when he says he heard the voice of God again.

“I was sitting in my office when the Lord told me he had a new road for me to build. A new road to salvation that goes to heaven!” he said, again laughing. “That’s why I’m on a mission with my Lord.”

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Anglican Journal News, January 29, 2016

PWRDF sees surge in donations for refugees

Posted on: January 29th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Syrian refugee in Suruc, the largest refugee camp in Turkey.  Photo: Orlok/Shutterstock​


In the past four months, Canadian Anglicans have donated more than 76 times as much for Syrian relief than they did in the first eight months of 2015—and the spike is translating directly into more aid for desperate Syrian families.Since Sept. 12, 2015, The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) has received $488,605 in donations for relief in and around Syria, PWRDF announced last week. That’s more than six times the $80,155 received from January 2012 to early September 2015, and more than 76 times the $6,401 donated in the first eight months of 2015.

On January 20, PWRDF released a $300,000 grant for necessities of life, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, schooling, blankets, livelihood support, counselling and other forms of aid for thousands of families left homeless by the war, some still in Syria and others now living in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The grant is being made through the ACT Alliance, a coalition of 137 faith-based organizations for humanitarian aid, development and advocacy.

A key reason for the dramatic increase in donations, says PWRDF communications co-ordinator Simon Chambers, seems to have been the photograph, published in early September, of the lifeless body of Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach. Alan, a three-year old Syrian boy, drowned after his crowded boat capsized en route to Greece.

“The Alan Kurdi photo brought the matter to people’s attention, and Canadians wanted to respond,” Chamber says. “PWRDF is how many Canadian Anglicans respond to situations like this, so they began to call us (and we announced that we were taking donations). Then when the government announced matching funds, that gave things a boost as well. People love to know that their donation is doing even more work.” Until Feb. 29, 2016, these donations are being matched dollar-for-dollar by the Canadian government for its Syria Emergency Relief Fund.

PWRDF began working on Syrian relief soon after the country began to be torn apart by civil strife in 2011. This latest grant, however, was made possible by an “enormous outpouring of generosity from Canadian Anglicans,” PWRDF said in a press statement.

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Anglican Journal News, January 29, 2016

Father Michael Lapsley wins the Public Peace Prize 2016

Posted on: January 28th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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The Institute for Healing of Memories is proud to announce that its director, Father Michael Lapsley, has been awarded the Public Peace Prize 2016, in the top category ‘Global Peace and Reconciliation – Internationally-Reputed Peacemaker’. He shares this top award this year with Marie Dennis, the Co-President of Pax Christi International.

The Public Peace Prize (PPP), an international initiative whose organisers are based in Canada, is awarded on the basis of the number of votes cast and the messages of support sent for each nominee by ordinary citizens around the world via the official website, Facebook and emails. The aim of this non-money award is to publicise the work of leading peacemakers and to give as many people as possible a chance to express their support for their valuable work. As the PPP website states, ‘the numerous comments and expressions of support received online for Michael Lapsley focused on his courage and his approach to healing of memories work, and warmly recommended that he be recognised for his global contribution to peace and reconciliation and be awarded the 2016 Public Peace Prize’.

The Institute and Father Michael personally would like to thank all those who supported his nomination and thus enabled him to win the Prize.

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The Institute for Healing of Memories e-mail, January 27, 2016

Pope Francis apologises for treatment of non-Catholic Christians

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Pope Francis apologises for treatment of non-Catholic Christians

Pope Francis pictured at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, November 2014.
Photo Credit: Gavin Drake

[ACNS] Pope Francis has apologised for behaviour towards Christians from non-Roman Catholic churches that “has not reflected Gospel values.” The Pope made his comments during a Vespers service in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome last night attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Representative to the Holy See, Archbishop Sir David Moxon.

The service was held to mark the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and was also attended by Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. At the end of the service the Pope invited Metropolitan Gennadios and Archbishop David to join him in blessing the congregation.

On its Facebook page, the Anglican Centre in Rome described the homily and the joint blessing as “very powerful words and a very powerful gesture.”

“In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must always keep in mind that there cannot be an authentic search for Christian unity without trusting fully in the Father’s mercy,” Pope Francis said. “We ask first of all for forgiveness for the sins of our divisions, which are an open wound in the Body of Christ.

“As Bishop of Rome and pastor of the Catholic Church, I want to ask for mercy and forgiveness for the behaviour of Catholics towards Christians of other Churches which has not reflected Gospel values.

“At the same time, I invite all Catholic brothers and sisters to forgive if they, today or in the past, have been offended by other Christians. We cannot cancel out what has happened, but we do not want to let the weight of past faults continue to contaminate our relationships. God’s mercy will renew our relationships.”

Today, Archbishop Sir David Moxon said that the Pope’s words and gesture “immediately challenges Christians who aren’t Roman Catholic to respond in the same way, asking for forgiveness for the wrongs we have done and the wounds we have inflicted on the body of Christ.”

He continued: “This mutual confession automatically brings forth a sense of forgiveness, grace, and hope and we can be closer than we were before because of this. Such a movement of grace is indeed a blessing we can all share.”

In his homily, Pope Francis spoke of the need for evangelism, saying: “The mission of the whole people of God is to announce the marvellous works of the Lord, first and foremost the Pasqual mystery of Christ, through which we have passed from the darkness of sin and death to the splendour of His new and eternal life.

“In light of the Word of God which we have been listening to, and which has guided us during this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we can truly affirm that all of us, believers in Christ, have been called to proclaim the mighty works of God.

“Beyond the differences which still separate us, we recognise with joy that at the origin of our Christian life there is always a call from God Himself. We can make progress on the path to full visible communion between us Christians not only when we come closer to each other, but above all as we convert ourselves to the Lord, who through His grace, chooses and calls us to be His disciples.

“And converting ourselves means letting the Lord live and work in us. For this reason, when Christians of different Churches listen to the Word of God together and seek to put it into practice, they make important steps towards unity.

“It is not only the call which unites us, but we also share the same mission to proclaim to all the marvellous works of God. Like St Paul, and like the people to whom St Peter is writing, we too cannot fail to announce God’s merciful love which has conquered and transformed us.

“While we are moving towards full communion among Christians, we can already develop many forms of cooperation to aid the spread of the Gospel. By walking and working together, we realise that we are already united in the name of the Lord.”

  • The full text of Pope Francis’ homily can be read on the website of Vatican Radio.

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Anglican Communion News Service, Your daily update from ACNS, January 26, 2016

Week of Prayer highlights partnerships for refugees

Posted on: January 26th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Week of Prayer highlights partnerships for refugees

Augusto Léon and his family found refuge in Ottawa with the help of the Mennonite Church in Colombia and Canada.Photo: Art Babych


Churches in the national capital area are sharing their long-term experience in refugee work with wider community groups as Syrian refugees continue to arrive in Canada.

The Rev. David Sherwin, of the Ottawa Presbytery of the United Church of Canada, said individual congregations are partnering with local community groups, nursing homes, sports teams and service clubs. “We also see local congregations partnering with other local congregations of other denominations, with other faith groups, and from other traditions entirely,” Sherwin said. “It’s good news as we unite our time, our energy and our money in order to welcome newcomers.”

Sherwin was speaking at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service at the First Baptist Church January 24, organized by the Christian Council of the Capital Area (CCCA). Instead of a homily, Sherwin outlined details of the refugee work being done by several churches in Ottawa and Gatineau. Also participating in the service were church leaders and representatives from more than 12 denominational churches in the area, including Anglican, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and United churches.

Sherwin noted that the Anglican diocese of Ottawa has “opened up” the diocesan sponsorship agreement it has with the federal government. Doing so allows community groups to “reach out to people in need through the Anglican diocese and sponsor refugees across the city,” he said. The United Church’s Ottawa Presbytery has also extended its diocesan sponsorship agreement to include community groups.

Augusto Léon of a church-sponsored refugee family now living in Ottawa gave a first-hand account of how the Mennonite Church, both in Colombia and Canada, helped him, his wife and four children find refuge in Ottawa. Léon said he was threatened on several occasions in his homeland for his human rights work, and faced an assassination attempt in Bogota. His wife was also threatened. Fearing for their lives, the pair in 2008 sought help in leaving the country from a pastor at a Mennonite Church in Colombia. With the aid of the Mennonite community in Ottawa, the couple and their children became a church-sponsored refugee family.

Léon wiped tears from his face as he thanked the Mennonite Church, a member of the CCCA. “God bless you, and God bless Canada,” he said.

Pierre Chetelat, representing Ottawa Mennonite Refugee Assistance (OMRA) Shelter Alternatives Corporation, gave a briefing on the work of the church agency, which is run entirely on a volunteer basis. Along with the Ottawa Mennonite Church and other groups, OMRA works to provide safe, clean, affordable housing for refugees coming to settle in Ottawa. It was through OMRA that the Léon family found housing.

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, started in 1908, is an international Christian ecumenical observance held annually from January 18-25. A different church in the national capital area hosts the service each year.

The First Baptist Church in Ottawa was founded in 1857, and was the first Baptist congregation in the city. Notables who have worshipped at the church near Parliament Hill include former prime minister John Diefenbaker.

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Anglican Journal News, January 26, 2016

PWRDF announces $300k grant for displaced Syrians

Posted on: January 24th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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PWRDF announces $300k grant for displaced Syrians

Syrians from Kobani, northern Syria, at the Suruc refugee camp in Turkey.  Photo: Orlok/Shutterstock


More much-needed necessities will soon be on their way to families displaced by the war in Syria.

The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) on January 20 announced a $300,000 grant for necessities of life such as food, water, shelter, clothing, schooling, blankets, livelihood support, counseling and other forms of aid.

The assistance, PWRDF said, will go to thousands of families left homeless by the war, some still in Syria and others now living in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The grant is being made through the ACT Alliance, a coalition of 137 faith-based organizations for humanitarian aid, development and advocacy.

PWRDF began working on Syrian relief soon after the country began to be torn apart by civil strife in 2011. This latest grant, however, was made possible by an “enormous outpouring of generosity from Canadian Anglicans,” PWRDF said, that followed “last year’s focus on Syrian refugees entering Europe, the unfortunate death of Alan Kurdi and the re-emergence of the Syrian situation on the Canadian political agenda.”

Donations to many aid organizations spiked significantly after the publication in early September of a photograph showing the body of Alan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy, on a Turkish beach. Alan had died after his crowded boat capsized en route to Greece. Since September 12, 2015, according to PWRDF, Canadian Anglicans have donated $488,605 for relief in and around Syria.

“This is how people’s donations for Syrian relief are making a difference,” said PWRDF spokesman Simon Chambers.

Until February 29, 2016, these donations are being matched dollar-for-dollar by the Canadian government for its Syria Emergency Relief Fund.

Since Syria’s civil war began in 2011, about eight million people have been made homeless inside the country, and more than four million have fled to other countries, most notably Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. According to the PWRDF, Syrian refugees now make up more than 20 percent of the population of Lebanon.

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Anglican Journal News, January 20, 2016

Hiltz: Primates’ Meeting saw ‘increased participation’ on climate change, religious violence

Posted on: January 22nd, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Hiltz: Primates’ Meeting saw ‘increased participation’ on climate change, religious violence


Religiously motivated violence and climate change were also causes for serious concern at the Primates’ Meeting held January 11-15 in Canterbury, said Archbishop Fred Hiltz. Photo: André Forget


While issues around human sexuality and church order were the main topics of conversation when the primates of the Anglican Communion met in Canterbury from January 11-15, issues such as climate change and religious violence drew the broadest participation, said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.

In a January 19 interview with the Anglican Journal, Hiltz noted that although the conversation around whether the U.S.-based Episcopal Church (TEC) should face consequences for its decision to perform same-sex marriage was driven by a few voices, when the conversation was opened up to global concerns about “the well-being of the human family and the planet,” many others joined in.

“[Primates] who are normally very quiet, who hardly say a word, were on their feet and talking about the reality [of climate change and religious violence] in their circumstance.”

The official Primates’ Meeting communiqué noted the struggles faced by Anglicans in some Global South provinces related to desertification and rising sea levels, and affirmed the primates’ repudiation of “any religiously motivated violence” while expressing “solidarity with all who suffer from this evil in the world today.

Before the meeting, Hiltz had said he hoped the conversation would deal with “matters of global concern with respect to our common humanity and our common home, the Earth itself,” as well as issues within the domestic life of the church itself. In a reflection penned a few days after the meeting came to a close, he drew particular attention to the primates’ discussion of climate change and religious violence.

But while he noted that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby worked hard to ensure that all primates were given a chance to speak about how these issues impacted them, restrictions on time meant that opportunities to talk about what Anglicans are doing to address these issues were limited.

“We weren’t hearing what, in fact, is being done across the Communion in a formal way through the networks and the consultations,” he said. “There is an Anglican Communion Environmental Network; there is an Anglican Communion Safe Church consultation; there is an International Anglican Family Network; there is an Anglican Indigenous Network—and they’ve done some good things, and continue to do good things.”

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Anglican Journal News, January 22, 2016

Censure of US church will weigh on Canada, says Hiltz

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Anglican Journal staff


Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, says primates remain committed “even in the face of deep differences of theological conviction concerning same-sex marriage — to walk together and not apart.” 


Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, acknowledged  tonight that the decision by the majority of primates to temporarily restrict the Episcopal Church’s participation in the Anglican Communion’s decision-making related to doctrine and polity “will weigh into” the Anglican Church of Canada’s own deliberations about same-sex marriage this July.

Expressing their unanimous desire to walk together, a majority of primates Jan. 14 asked that the Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Their call, said the primates in a statement, was  in response to the decision by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention in June 2015  to change its canon law definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman and allow same-sex marriage.

“I was deeply mindful that our Church will deal with the first reading of a proposed change of a similar kind in our canon on marriage at General Synod in July 2016,” said the primate in an initial statement released on the church’s website, anglican.ca. “There is no doubt in my mind that the action of the Primates’ meeting will weigh into our deliberations.”

Hiltz said he would comment further and issue a reflection on Monday, January 18, about the issue of same-sex marriage and a host of “other critical global issues” discussed at the Primates’ Meeting, held January 11-15, in Canterbury, England.

At a press conference earlier this morning, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was noncommittal about what consequence, if any, there would be for the Anglican Church of Canada should its General Synod allow same-sex marriage.

Welby acknowledged, however, that the Canadian church’s upcoming vote on whether or not to change its marriage canon to allow for same-sex marriage was discussed at the Primates’ Meeting.  “We discussed [the Canadian church vote], and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said at a press conference held at Canterbury Cathedral. He also said that there are “another two or three” provinces that are looking at taking action on same-sex marriage.

Welby was responding to a question about whether the Canadian church would meet the same fate as The Episcopal Church, which had been asked by the primates to not take part in decision-making related to issues of doctrine and polity, following its decision in June 2015 to allow same-sex marriage. In an announcement posted on the Primates’ Meeting website, the primates said that “given the seriousness of these matters,” The Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, should “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, [and] should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee…”

In a communiqué released after its meeting, the primates expressed their unanimous desire to walk together and said that their decision was made following a recommendation by “a working group of our members which took up the task of how our Anglican Communion of Churches might walk together and our unity be strengthened.”

The Episcopal Church’s decision represents “a fundamental departure from the faith and teaching held by the majority of our Provinces on the doctrine of marriage,” said the communiqué, adding that, “possible developments in other provinces could further exacerbate this situation.”

In his statement, Hiltz said that primates remain committed “even in the face of deep differences of theological conviction concerning same-sex marriage — to walk together and not apart.”

He said that primates had “struggled with the fragility of our relations” in response to The Episcopal Church’s decision. “We talked, prayed and wrestled with the consequences considered by the meeting. Some of us wept,” said Hiltz.

Their conversations also reflected “the truth that, while the Anglican Communion is a family of autonomous Churches in communion with the see of Canterbury, we live by the long-held principle of ‘mutual responsibility and inter dependence in the Body of Christ’,” said Hiltz. “While our relationships are most often characterized by mutual support and encouragement, there are times when we experience stress and strain and we know our need for the grace of God to be patient with each other. Such was the experience of the primates this week.”

Hiltz asked Canadian Anglicans to pray for all the primates as they travelled back to their provinces. “I know some are returning to very challenging situations beset with extreme poverty, civil war, religiously motivated violence and the devastating effects of climate change.”

The primates’  meeting, he added, “reminded me once again of the servant style of leadership required of the primates of the Churches of The Anglican Communion. As Jean Vanier reminded us in his reflections at our closing Eucharist, “We are called to be the face of Jesus in this world. Pray with me that all of us be faithful in this calling.”

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Anglican Journal News, January 15, 2016

Church leaders working to fix a date for Easter: Welby

Posted on: January 16th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby talks with Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church at a meeting in Cairo, June 25, 2013. Photo: Lambeth Palace


Within the next decade, Christians around the world may be celebrating Easter on the same fixed day.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby announced at a news conference Friday, January 15 he has been working with Roman Catholic and other church leaders across the world to fix a date for Easter.

Primates (senior archbishops) of the Anglican Communion, who met January 11-15, gave their support for the idea, said Welby.

He hoped, Welby said, that a date for the holy day would be fixed in the next five to 10 years.

“I would love to see it before I retire,” he said. “Equally, I think the first attempt to do this was in the tenth century, so it may take a little while,” he added, to the laughter of some in attendance.

Welby said he has let the British government know of the plan, since the date of Easter “affects almost everything you do in the spring and summer,” including school holidays.

The talks, he said, were proposed by Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church. Last summer, Pope Francis said he supported Pope Tawadros’s idea of setting a fixed date for the holy day.

As things stand now, the date of Easter depends on the phases of the moon, and varies among different churches. The method for setting the date was agreed on at the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. According to this method, Easter falls on the first Sunday after the 14th day of the Paschal full moon—the first full moon after the spring equinox. In the Gregorian calendar used in the West, this means between March 22 and April 25.

However, many Eastern churches use a different calendar, so that the Eastern Orthodox Easter usually falls a week after the western Easter.

According to a story in The Guardian newspaper, discussions to fix a date for Easter are being held by representatives of the Roman Catholic and Coptic popes as well as the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch, in addition to those of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Easter Sunday this year will fall on March 27.

Tali Folkins has worked as a staff reporter for the Law Times and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.  His writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail and The United Church Observer. 

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Anglican Journal News, January 15, 2016

Majority of primates call for temporary Episcopal Church sanctions

Posted on: January 14th, 2016 by CEP Administrator No Comments
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By Matthew Davies, Episcopal News Service


The primates of the Anglican Communion pray during Evensong in Canterbury Cathedral on January 11, the first day of their five-day meeting. 
Photo: Canterbury Cathedral


Episcopal News Service — Canterbury, England. A majority of Anglican primates Jan. 14 asked that the Episcopal Church, for a period of three years, “no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies, should not be appointed or elected to an internal standing committee and that while participating in the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, they will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”

Expressing their unanimous desire to walk together, the primates said that their call comes in response to the decision by the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last June to change canonical language that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorize two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

An announcement posted on the Primates 2016 meeting website said that “the Primates agreed how they would walk together in the grace and love of Christ.”

“This agreement acknowledges the significant distance that remains but confirms their unanimous commitment to walk together,” the announcement, which includes the full text of the primates’ call, said. The announcement also said the agreement “demonstrates the commitment of all the Primates to continue the life of the Communion with neither victor nor vanquished.”

Before the Jan. 14 vote, Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry told the primates gathering Jan. 11-15 in Canterbury, England, that the statement calling for the sanction would be painful for many in the Episcopal Church to receive.

“Many of us have committed ourselves and our church to being ‘a house of prayer for all people,’ as the Bible says, when all are truly welcome,” Curry said in remarks he later made available to Episcopal News Service.

“Our commitment to be an inclusive church is not based on a social theory or capitulation to the ways of the culture, but on our belief that the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross are a sign of the very love of God reaching out to us all.  While I understand that many disagree with us, our decision regarding marriage is based on the belief that the words of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians are true for the church today: All who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female, for all are one in Christ.”

“For so many who are committed to following Jesus in the way of love and being a church that lives that love, this decision will bring real pain,” he said. “For fellow disciples of Jesus in our church who are gay or lesbian, this will bring more pain. For many who have felt and been rejected by the church because of who they are, for many who have felt and been rejected by families and communities, our church opening itself in love was a sign of hope. And this will add pain on top of pain.”

Curry told the primates that he was in no sense comparing his own pain to theirs, but “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.

“The pain for many will be real. But God is greater than anything. I love Jesus and I love the church. I am a Christian in the Anglican way. And like you, as we have said in this meeting, I am committed to ‘walking together’ with you as fellow primates in the Anglican family.”

The primates’ statement also asks Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to appoint a task group “to maintain conversation among ourselves with the intention of restoration of relationship, the rebuilding of mutual trust, healing the legacy of hurt, recognizing the extent of our commonality, and exploring our deep differences, ensuring they are held between us in the love and grace of Christ.”

The announcement about the sanctions said that further comments would be made and questions answered at a 3 p.m. local time news conference Jan. 15.

The first two days of the gathering were given solely to setting the agenda for the week and focusing on whether the primates could reach an agreement on how to move forward despite their differences of opinion concerning theological interpretation and human sexuality issues.

A widely anticipated exodus of some conservative African archbishops has not come to pass and all but one primate remain at the table during the Jan. 11-15 meeting, committed to ongoing dialogue and discerning various options towards reconciliation. Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of the Anglican Church of Uganda quietly left the meeting on Jan. 12. He had said in a statement prior to the gathering that he would leave unless “discipline and godly order” were restored in the Anglican Communion. In a Jan. 13 letter to his church, Ntagali said he left because the Ugandan provincial assembly had resolved to not participate in any official communion meetings until that order was restored.

ENS learned from one archbishop that on Wednesday morning the primates took a vote that would have asked the Episcopal Church to withdraw voluntarily from the Anglican Communion for a period of three years. The vote failed by 15 to 20, although such a withdrawal is not in keeping with the processes of provincial membership as outlined in the constitution of the Anglican Consultative Council, the Communion’s main policy-making body. The ACC is already scheduled to meet April 8-20 in Lusaka, Zambia.

Archbishop Foley Beach, the leader of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), has been gathering with the primates for conversation throughout the week but not participating in any of the votes. Beach was invited by Welby in an effort to avert a boycott from conservative African archbishops such as the one that occurred at the last Primates Meeting in 2011. ACNA is composed largely of former Episcopalians who chose to break away from the Episcopal Church. Some African primates have declared their affiliation to ACNA.

By Wednesday afternoon, the agenda had moved onto other pressing issues affecting the Anglican Communion, such as relief and development work, and its response to war and conflict.

Curry, who was installed as the Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop and primate last November, is attending his first gathering of primates.

Following his election in June 2015, Curry said the Anglican Communion is as much about relationships and partnerships as it is about structure and organization. “We’ve got some work to do; we’ve got some Jesus work to do,” he said. “This world is crying out for us and it needs us, and the Anglican Communion is one way that God uses us together to really make this a better world.”  

 

Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

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Anglican Journal News, January 14, 2016